Gorilla Trekking Safari – All you need to Know about Mountain Gorilla Tour – Gorilla Tracking Safari

Looking for an exceptional gorilla safari tour experience? If yes, then mountain gorilla trekking is by far one of the unusual and the most exhilarating wildlife experiences that never goes unmentioned. Think of a magical encounter a lifetime and consider gorilla trekking safari to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a must-do!

Mountain gorillas are sub-species of the Eastern gorilla. They are undoubtedly a few unique and the most looked for ground dwelling primates by tourists on gorilla safari. Tracking mountain gorillas is such a thrilling experience tourists on gorilla tour shouldn’t miss out. These rare apes share 98 percent of their genetic DNA with humans and an encounter with them in the wild let us witness how close we are to them.

Where to go for Gorilla Trekking?

There are only 3 countries and 4 national parks to visit for mountain gorilla trekking in Africa. They include Uganda with 2 magical gorilla safari parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These protected areas are in southwestern Uganda and accessible about 8-9 hours’ drive from Kampala capital city or spend 3 to 4 hours driving from Kigali capital city via Katuna/Cyanika border area.

Rwanda is the other exceptional country where a section of mountain gorillas live and gorilla trekking is conducted only in Volcanoes National Park which is set in Northwestern side of this dubbed Land of a Thousand Hills. Lastly, a portion of these rare apes lives in the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Gorilla trekking is safe in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC because treks are conducted only in already habituated gorilla families. In Uganda, about 21 gorilla families have been set for travelers on Uganda gorilla trekking safari to explore while on a tour in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

About 20 groups are in Bwindi and they can be trekked in Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo areas. They include Oruzongo, Bitukura, Kyaguriro and Mukiza all in Ruhija gorilla trekking region; Katwe gorilla family, Rushegura group, Habinyanja and Mubare gorilla family in Buhoma sector while in Rushaga gorilla safari adventures are carried out in the 9 habituated gorilla groups and they include Kahungye, Bweza family, Mucunguzi, Nshongi, Kutu, Bushaho gorilla group, Mishaya, Busingye and Rwigi family. Nkuringo region has 3 groups; Nkuringo group, Christmas and Bikingi gorilla group family. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, it is only Nyakagyezi group which is available for gorilla trekking.

In Rwanda Volcanoes National Park, there are 10 groups to explore on Rwanda gorilla safari and they include Agashya, Sabyinyo, Umubano, Ugenda, Hirwa, Bwenge, Kwitonda, Amahoro, Susa A and Karisimbi (Susa B).

In the DR Congo, gorilla trekking safari tours are carried in anyone of the 8 gorilla families have been habituated for visitors on Congo gorilla safaris to track in the Virunga National Park and they include Nyakamwe group, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Humba, Lulengo gorilla group, Kabirizi, Munyaga and Bageni. continue reading here.

How many Mountain Gorillas left?

The overall population of mountain gorillas in the world presently is about 1063. Their survival on earth remains a major challenge but thanks to continued conservation efforts that have contributed significantly to increase in their number compared to the past years.

About 459 of the overall number of these endangered species are confined in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, one of the leading gorilla safari destinations and the rest are shared by 3 Virunga Conservation Areas; Virunga National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which are the only 4 premier mountain gorilla trekking safari destinations in Africa and the world at large.

More efforts are needed to save the lives of mountain gorillas their survival continues to be threatened by poaching, habitat loss, infectious disease from humans and a lot more.

Who can Track Mountain Gorillas?

To track mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you should be above 15 years.  This doesn’t exclude persons with disability and those over 65 years as often persons within these brackets have been recorded making it through gorilla trekking safari adventure to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.  Persons with disability can also engage in a trek to see mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They can be carried in bamboo stretchers or a modern sedan chair with seat belts.

Is it better to see Gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda (gorilla trekking Uganda Vs Rwanda?)

This is one of the commonly asked questions by most travelers on gorilla safari-Uganda and Rwanda which is the best to go for gorilla trekking? Well, both gorilla destinations offer a thrilling gorilla trekking experience and someone’s experience may depend on his or luck. However, the two countries differ slightly on some aspects; Uganda particularly has 2 distinct spots (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla national Park) for visitors thus presenting trekkers opportunities to see mountain gorillas unlike Rwanda with only Volcanoes National Park.

Also, Uganda hosts about 21 habituated gorilla families which are trekked in Bwindi’s Rushaga, Nkuringo, Buhoma or Ruhija region and 1 (one) gorilla family group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park compared to Rwanda with only 10 gorilla groups. Looking at the rates, Uganda is relatively a cheaper gorilla trekking safari destination with gorilla permits obtainable at 700 US Dollars which is slightly lower than 1500 US Dollars in Rwanda.

Gorilla Trekking Best time to go

Gorilla trekking safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park can carried out at any time of the year due to favorable climatic and weather conditions. However, the dry season is considered to be the best period to trekkers on gorilla safari can visit Uganda, Rwanda or DRC to trek mountain gorillas. The dry months of the year in this gorilla safari parks run from June, July, August to September then December, January to February.

Tracking mountain gorillas during the dry spell is favorable since the habitat remains drier thus making it easy to hike through steep slopes and dense vegetation to look for a group of these primates. The wet or rainy season also present opportunity for you to engage in gorilla trekking safari experience and this is perfect for budget visitors on gorilla safari. The wet season runs from March, April to May and October to November.

Gorilla Trekking Uganda from Kigali

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is possible starting from Kigali Rwanda. Visitors on Uganda gorilla safaris can access Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park via Katuna border to Kabale or through Cyanika border to Kisoro then connect to any of the gorilla safari parks.

How difficult is Gorilla Trekking?

If you plan to participate in gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or DRC then expect to hike through rough terrain and dense vegetation to view mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. But the interesting bit of it is that even the old can engage in this adventure and return successfully.

Besides, in case you find any challenges there are porters to be hired to help carry heavy load and walking sticks are provided for support. However, it is exhausting primate adventure that requires some physical wellness in you and that is why it is important that you do some exercise prior your actual date of tracking mountain gorillas.

Gorilla Trekking Rules

Gorilla trekking rules play a significant role not only for visitor safety but also ensure mountain gorillas are well-protected in their natural habitat. It is mandatory for every trekker on gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda to ensure he or she observes the set gorilla trekking or gorilla tracking rules and regulations also best referred to as safety measures, gorilla trekking etiquette, dos and don’ts or guidelines… read more about gorilla tracking rules.

How long does it take to trek gorillas?

A normal trek to see mountain gorillas begins with you rising to have your breakfast then you join other trekkers for briefing on gorilla tracking rules and regulations. The actual trek begins at 8:00am and you will be accompanied by a park ranger guide. You may take about 2-6 hours trekking to see mountain gorillas but the length of the trek varies depending on the speed of visitor, nature of the habitat and location of these apes as they move to search for what feed on.

Once you find a group allocated to you, only one hour is designated for you to take pictures, learn about how they behave till they make new nests. This means you have to utilize the one hour well not to miss every detail you need to know about these humble creatures in the wild.

Gorilla Trekking Vs Gorilla Tracking

Gorilla trekking vs gorilla tracking: Most tourists on gorilla safari holiday find it hard differentiating between gorilla trekking and gorilla tracking. However, the 2 words are usually used concurrently to denote the same thing although they are slightly different from each other in some aspects. Gorilla trekking is the one done by the tourists while gorilla tracking is carried out by park rangers. Get the detailed difference here, gorilla trekking vs gorilla tracking.

Gorilla Trekking Packing List

Gorilla trekking packing list; what you consider or how you pack for your gorilla trekking safari plays a significant role in ensuring you have the best and memorable primate adventure of a lifetime. Your gorilla trekking packing list should include;

  • Camera
  • Hiking Boots
  • Rain Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeved shirts, trousers, blouses
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Sun glasses plus wide brimmed hat
  • Gorilla Permit

For a more detailed Gorilla Trekking Packing list, click here.

Where to Stay on a Gorilla Safari

A complete gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo requires you to book a right accommodation option. Accommodation options for visitors on Congo gorilla safari to spend a night in Virunga National Park include Mikeno Lodge, Kibumba Tented Camp, Tchegera Island Camp, Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Summit Shelters and Bukima Tented Camp.

In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, trekkers on Uganda gorilla safari can spend a night in lodges such as Mahogany Springs Lodge, Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Friends Resort and Campsite, Ichumbi Lodge, Buhoma Lodge, Buhoma Community Rest Camp, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge and Chameleon Hill Lodge. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park you can choose from Chameleon Hill Lodge, Lake Mutanda Lodge in Ntebeko and in Kisoro; there is River Mucha Hotel, Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel. Find more lodges in Bwindi here.

Volcanoes National Park has many gorilla safari lodges for tourists to choose for a night stay before or after gorilla trekking experience. They include among others Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Kinigi Guesthouse, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge and Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel.

Is Gorilla Trekking Worth the Cost?

Is gorilla trekking worth the cost? This is one of the frequently asked questions by most visitors on gorilla safari but honestly, the answer is yes! The hundreds of dollars spent is of value that it helps in the conservation of these rare gentle giants who were on verge of extinction few years ago. Also, half of the money spent on gorilla permits are used in development of communities near the mountain gorilla parks… read the detailed story about the value of a gorilla safari.